Why it matters: Amazon has never had the best reputation when it comes to the way it treats employees, and that appears to be especially true during the Covid-19 crisis. Two workers who were fired after criticizing the company over its actions during the pandemic are calling for staff to phone in sick this Friday to protest work conditions.
A Medium post by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) explains that the group sent meeting invitations internally on April 10, so warehouse workers could talk about the conditions they’ve experienced during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Hours after the invitations were sent, Amazon fired two AECJ leaders— Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa— who had criticized the company’s treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic. Amazon also deleted the meeting invitations and details from employees’ calendars, but the online event went ahead anyway and was attended by hundreds of workers.
Fellow Amazonians: show Amazon that we will not stand for its attempt to censor our event to hear from our warehouse colleagues from our inboxes/calendars + the firing of @emahlee & @marencosta - Join our “Sick Out” on 4/24! Pledge to join here ⬇️ https://t.co/MsLbYkYUs1— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@AMZNforClimate) April 20, 2020
Amazon said Cunningham and Costa were fired for “repeatedly violating internal policies,” which prevent employees from speaking publicly about the business without corporate justification and approval from executives.
“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.
The AECJ is now calling for Amazon employees to call in sick this Friday, April 24, to show their dissatisfaction with the company. There will be a livestream on the day for warehouse workers to talk about their experiences.
AECJ is also demanding that Amazon reinstate Cunningham and Costa, change its communication policies, continue to implement new measures to protect workers from Covid-19, and make commitments to climate justice.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Amazon is building its own lab to test workers for Covid-19, though it’s unclear how long the process will take.